Looking Behind The Trashy Stuff

Halston was a American designer who was enormously popular in the 1970’s.  Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, is a documentary and him and his life.

Halston and his story are epic. The film is mediocre, thanks to the creepy filmmaker, but there were still a good number of choice bits and some very interesting personalities featured.

The film opens with an interview with Liza Minnelli who was one of Halston’s closest friends. Halston was a regular at Studio 54, and there are a lot of stories about him.  His friend, Liza, spoke highly of him and encouraged the filmmaker to “look beyond the trashy stuff”.

Hearing her say that, I thought it would be nice to have a friend like, Liza.  But it also made me think about how the ability to look behind the trashy stuff, the ability to look beneath the flashy surface is a skill that is diminishing in terms of the collective.

Can you look behind the trashy stuff? Could you benefit from working on this?

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Looking Behind The Trashy Stuff — 19 Comments

  1. I looked behind the trashy stuff for years, and I know it ruined me for most of that time. I felt compromisd in my integrity and my authenticity. After it all dissolved, it took another 2 years to get all of that back. That is my personal story,where it happened to me, but if it was me acting like that, I would want my friend to tell me the trashy stuff to help improve myself and be all that I could be, and not hide behind all of that.

  2. I haven’t seen this film, so possibly shouldn’t comment. But I took your post to mean that there can be so much more to a person than what seems to be there — positive or negative. An awful lot of what I’ve struggled to do in life is refine my judgment of character.

    In terms of public figures, artists, creative people — I tend ultimately to be more interested in their work than in details of their private lives. But in my own life, I avoid difficult and self-dramatizing types now. It’s too draining. Again, not sure this really addresses the original point, not having seen the documentary.

    • I am sorry I wasn’t clear. Very sorry, because I really wanted to see this discussed. The idea that a person’s mind be disciplined. Mercury is in Capricorn. 🙂

      Halston had a wild sex life. I took, Liza to be suggesting that the filmmaker look behind all that, to discover the essence of this man, his talent and his contribution to the world, and to America. He was the first American designed to be valued by Europeans. In short, he was a VERY BIG DEAL, but forgotten in a way.
      He sold his name toward the end of his life – wound up not being able to design using his own name. No one to blame but himself, for that. I am not saying he was victim. What I am saying is his is BIG story and to just reduce it to who and how he fucked would be a big waste.

      I do see this all the time. People value sensation gossip over substance. If you do this, you miss most of what’s out there. You deal in the 20% rather than the 80%.

      This happens to me all the time. Go ahead and look at the 20%, if this is your capacity. They’re your brain cells. Do with them what you please.

  3. Our culture is obsessed with sex. Those who aren’t having it are trying to stick their nose or projections into other people’s pants.

    Why, of all the things that a person could do for kicks, is sex so horrible and vilifying?

    I don’t wonder if this phenomenon doesn’t go hand in hand–the “bigger” the personality, the more society wants to tear them down, or to pieces, even.
    Haters be hatin’, as the kids say these days.

  4. I’ve known and hung with quite a few “trashy” folks and from my experience, the trashy scenario seems more often than not to be the “performance,” not the real story. When you can acknowledge the act they portray without becoming involved in it, most “trashy” people have great stories and good hearts. For whatever reasons brought them to this kind of stage, they are every bit as interesting and even at times, a bit more vulnerable than anyone else. Plus it’s kinda fun to indulge my inner trashcan every now and then without actually doing something about it. 🙂

  5. Forgot to say, I saw that documentary too and I felt the same way about Liza. I learned a lot about Halston that I didn’t really know but thought the filmmaker put waaaay too much of himself in the film to the point of distraction.

  6. He was dumbass. “How can we get this back?” he asks, in regards to someone’s dead and mega-talented friend.

    He was not only stupid, but stupid twice in that he did not edit out his stupidity, when it was right there for all to see.

  7. You’re so right about that. It’s one thing to have it in a rough cut, but you would think that when he saw himself like that, he would have realized how poorly he came across. It was interesting, though, to see how gracious many of his subjects were when he asked such foolish questions and made such ridiculous statements. I always admire people who can hold their composure and smooth over such dreadful situations.

  8. I think people who grew up with Halston in Vogue magazine was more interested in his fashion than his
    sex life…Interview magazine and that whole Studio 54 scene is what brought a lot of the trash out. The 70’s was a period of going from wholesome natural hippie non consumer life styles to the cocaine driven decadent life style in a span of five years. I saw friends get caught up in the glamour that trashed their lives. I stayed behind the scenes and didn’t get caught up in that. But I still admired Halston. His perfume was the one thing I could afford and wore it in High School.

  9. I love this doc and I love Halston. I think looking beyond the trashy is the best part. We are a part of this immediate media and no real appreciation for the true artisan.

  10. Seeing this topic earlier this morning freaked me out a bit as I was all up in Halston just last week – had the DVD Elsa mentions on loan here at home from Netflix, and wound up rifling through my copies of Steven Gaines’ “Simply Halston” as well as “The Andy Warhol Diaries” after I watched the film, because Halston’s life and career are fascinating. My merc in cancer has me leaning far toward the other end of the ‘seeing just the trash’ spectrum…and it’s served me very well in sussing out people in business and in life. The stuff below the surface is always more interesting and explains so much. Don’t tune in to what lies beneath, to your detriment! – is how I see it. Yes, there was plenty of 70’s nonsense (powders, pills, excess) surrounding his story, but Halston was a deeply beloved brother, uncle and friend, and he possessed extraordinary technical acumen and discipline for his craft (separate from the ‘business’ side of things). Get stuck on the Studio 54 stuff and you miss so much – about Halston, or anyone else with similar ‘recreational habits’, for that matter. (And yes, I concur with the sentiments expressed above – the filmmaker was an embarrassingly ill-prepared horse’s ass. Hmm – a merc in cap lesson there?)

  11. I like the part about him throwing fabric on the floor and cutting it into as dress with no seams.

    I also like that he clearly liked women, and dressed them beautifully.

  12. I watched this, what a great friend Liza is. She wanted the story to be done right. A lot of great people throughout history had interesting sex lives or had some sort of mental breakdown or were a little bit off, but I think that’s what makes them brilliant! If you are a genius in what you do, someone somewhere will make a point to make sure the WORK is the main attraction not the personal.

  13. Wow, brilliant thought… and you know the 70’s were like that, people were running amok, it was the sort of time. People get demonized around the idea of “sex” but it’s really sort of pointless.. the media is so skewered. People have this image of Robert Mapplethorpe but if you knew him, he was this very good person inside, he was honorable. It’s show biz. All the designers, Yves St. Laurent, Halston, etc. get pressured into selling their brand to keep going because it’s so expensive.. same thing is going on right now with John Galliano… who the media painted as bigoted which was rubbish according to most of his friends.

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